Publication Date


Document Type

Student Project

First Advisor

Orcutt, Holly

Second Advisor

Hill, Sarah

Degree Name

B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)


Department of Psychology


Childhood trauma has been related in numerous studies to maladaptive behavior as well as risky behaviors in adulthood, such as alcohol use. However, few studies have focused specifically on the relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and alcohol use. Moreover, experiential avoidance has been shown to be an important factor in poor behavioral outcomes in young adults with a history of childhood trauma. The present study explores experiential avoidance as a mediating factor of the relationship between CSA and alcohol severity in college students. Data for this current investigation was collected as a part of a larger study of undergraduate students recruited from introductory and upper-level psychology courses, with a sample of 438. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire was used to assess CSA, the Young Adult Alcohol Problems Screening Test assessed severity of alcohol-related problems, and the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II assessed experiential avoidance. Results show that there was a significant indirect effect of CSA on past year severity of alcohol related problems through experiential avoidance, 𝛣 = .04, 95% CI [.01, .07]. Thus, the present study supports the potential role of experiential avoidance as a mediating factor in the relationship between CSA and alcohol-related problems. Future research should conduct longitudinal studies that look at these constructs over time to better understand their relationship. It is also proposed that shifting our focus to interventions addressing experiential avoidance may be helpful when trying to reduce alcohol use in college students.

Suggested Citation

Montes, R., Hill., S., & Orcutt., H. (2024). Childhood sexual abuse and the role of experiential avoidance in college alcohol use.